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Pilot, May 19, 1973
CBS Daytime, July 2, 1973 – April 20, 1979
Syndicated, September 8, 1975 – September 10, 1982
Number of episodes
1,454 (CBS Daytime)
230 (Weekly Syndication)
525 (Daily Syndication)
Run time
22:30 minutes (w/o commercials; CBS and Daily Syndication)
24:00 minutes (w/o commercials; Weekly Syndication)
Gene Rayburn
Johnny Olson
Bern Bennett (sub: 1975)
Studio 33, CBS Television City, Los Angeles, California

Match Game ('73-'79/PM) is the comedy game show where six celebrities match two contestants and vice versa, simply by filling in the blanks. If the contestants do it very well, they win lots of money.

Game Format[]

Gene Rayburn greets two contestants and several million Americans on Match Game (73-79/PM.) Two contestants, including a returning champion, competed. The champion is seated in the upstage (red circle) seat and the challenger is seated in the downstage (green triangle) seat. On Match Game PM and the Daily/Nightly syndicated portion, a coin toss is held backstage to determine the positions. The object is to match the answers of as many of the six celebrity panelists as possible on fill-in-the-blank statements.

The main game is played in two rounds. The opponent was given a choice of two statements labeled either "A" or "B". Rayburn then read the statement. While the contestant pondered an answer, the six celebrities write their answers on index cards. After they finished, the contestant was polled for an answer. Gene then asked each celebrity — one at a time, beginning with #1 in the upper left hand corner — to respond.

While early questions in 1973 were similar to the 1962-69 NBC version (e.g., "Name a type of muffin" and "Every morning, John puts _________ on his cereal"), the questions quickly became more humorous. Comedy writer Dick DeBartolo, who had participated in the 1962-1969 "The MATCH GamE" is now contributed broader and saucier questions for Gene. Frequently, the statements were written with bawdy, double entendre answers in mind. A classic example: "Did you catch a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest _________."

Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as Gene critiqued the contestant's answer (for the "world's biggest" question, he might show disdain to an answer such as "fingers" or "bag", and compliment an answer such as "rear end" or "boobs", often also commenting on the audience's approving or disapproving response). The audience usually would groan or boo when a contestant gave a bad answer, whereas they would cheer and applaud in approval of a good answer. There were a handful of potential answers that were prohibited, the most notable being any synonym for genitalia.

The contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges; for example, "rear end" could be matched by "bottom", "behind", "derrière", "fannie", "hiney", etc.) up to a maximum of six points for matching everyone. After play was completed on one contestant's question, Gene read the statement on the other card for the opponent and play was identical.

Popular questions featured "Dumb Dora" or her male counterpart, "Dumb Donald". These questions would often begin, "Dumb Dora/Donald is/was so dumb..." or "Dumb Dora/Donald is/was REALLY dumb." To this, the audience would respond en masse, "How dumb IS/WAS he/she?" Then Gene would finish the question. Other common subjects of questions were Superman/Lois Lane, King Kong/Fay Wray, panelists on the show (most commonly Brett Somers), politicians, and Howard Cosell. Gene always played the action for laughs, and he frequently tried to read certain questions in character; for example, he would recite questions involving a made-up character named "Old Man Periwinkle", or "102-year-old Mr. Periwinkle", in a weak, quavering voice (he also did Periwinkle's female counterpart, "Old Mrs. Pervis"). Charles Nelson Reilly, who admitted in '77 he was Brett Somers's rival (as they often argued), one of the regular panelists and one who was often involved with directing Broadway plays, would often make remarks regarding Gene's acting such as "I like when you act" and "That was mediocre" when Gene did a voice like this; this tended to draw a big laugh from the audiences. At times, questions would deal with the fictitious (and often sleazy) country of "Nerdo Crombezia".

On Match Game PM and the daily syndicated version whichever player was ahead in points after Round 1 always began by choosing a question first in Round 2. This rule ensured that both players would be able to play two meaningful questions. (Without this rule, a player who had only answered one question could be ahead of another player who had played both his/her questions, rendering the final question moot.) Only celebrities that a contestant did not match could play this second round. On the CBS version, challengers always chose a question first in the next round.

The second round questions were generally easier and were usually puns that had a "definitive" answer (for instance, "Did you hear about the new religious group of dentists? They call themselves the Holy _____.", where the definitive answer would be "Molars"), whereas the first round usually had a number of possible answers. This was to help trailing contestants pick up points quickly.

On Match Game PM, a third round was added after Season One as the games proved to be too short to fill the half-hour. Again, the only celebrities who played were those who did not match that contestant in previous rounds.

The player who matched more celebrities at the end of the game is declared the winner. If the players had the same score at the end of "regulation", the scores were reset to 0-0. On PM (or on the syndicated daytime show if time was running short), a time-saving variant of the tie-breaker was used that reversed the game play. The contestants would write their answers first on a card in secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers. The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave that contestant the victory; if there was still no match (which was rare), the round was replayed with a new question. On the CBS version, the tie-breaker went on until there was a clear winner. If it came to the sudden-death tie-breaker, only the final question (the one that ultimately broke the tie) was kept and aired.

The CBS daytime version had returning champions and the show "straddled" – that is, episodes often began and ended with games in progress.

On the CBS daytime show, champions could stay until defeated or reached the network's limit of $25,000. Originally, that was the maximum earning for any champion, but the rule was later changed so that while champions were still retired after exceeding the $25,000 limit, they got to keep everything up to $35,000. During the six-year run of Match Game on CBS, only one champion retired undefeated.

On the daily 1979-82 syndicated version, two contestants would play two games against each other, and then both were retired. The show was timed out so that two new contestants appeared each Monday; this was necessary as the tapes of the show were shipped between stations, and weeks could not be aired in any discernible order (a common syndication practice at the time, known as "bicycling"). If a Friday show ran short, audience members sometimes got to play the game; this occurred on only three occasions. In each week of this version, both halves of the end game were played exactly six times.

Episodes of Match Game PM were self-contained, with two new contestants each week.

Super Match[]

The winner of the game went on to play the (Big Money) Super Match, which consisted of the Audience Match and the Head-To-Head Match segments, for additional money. On the CBS Edition, the winner of the game collects $100.

The Super Match is referred to as the "Jackpot Match" in the 1973 pilot.

Audience Match[]

A 1 to 4 Word fill-in-the-blank phrase is given and it's up to the contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the panel for help, the contestant chose an answer they liked the best or chose one of their own that they thought of themselves. The answers are then revealed; the most popular answer in the survey is worth $500, the second-most popular $250 and the third-most popular $100. If a contestant failed to match any of the three answers, the bonus round ended. Two Audience Matches are played on Match Game PM. On at least one occasion on Match Game PM, a contestant failed to win any money on either Audience Match; the contestant then got to play a fill-in-the-blank statement with the entire panel for $100 per match ($600 in total) as a consolation prize or a possible $200 per match ($1200 in total) when the Star Wheel is instituted. This has rarely occurred.

Head-To-Head Match[]

The contestant then had the opportunity to win the total cash prize is equal to 10 times the cash award for what he or she wins in the Audience Match (therefore either $5000, $2500 or $1000) by matching another fill-in-the-blank response with a celebrity panelist of his or her choice. In order to win the money, the contestant had to match his or her chosen celebrity's response exactly; this meant that multiple forms of the same word, e.g. singular or plural are all usually accepted whereas synonyms aren't. If successful, he/she won the extra money (the total prize being $1100/$2750/$5500). Thus, a maximum of $5600 ($100 has been collected for winning the game) can be the winner on the daytime edition per game & Super Match ($10,600 when the Star Wheel is instituted). On Match Game PM, a maximum of $11,000 can be the winner ($21,000 when the Star Wheel is instituted). The latter has occurred at least twice.

Richard Dawson is the most frequently-chosen celebrity in the 1973-1978 edition. His knack for matching contestants is so great that the executive producers tried to discourage contestants from repeatedly choosing him, even before the introduction of the Star Wheel; in 1975 a rule is added, stipulating that a returning champion can't choose the same celebrity again for the Head-To-Head Match - this only lasted six weeks.

Star Wheel[]

The "Star Wheel" is introduced in 1978 and it's used until the syndicated edition is terminated in 1982. Contestants spin the wheel to determine which celebrity they played with in the Head-To-Head Match and could double their potential winnings if the wheel landed on an area of gold stars under each celebrity's name (later changed to three individual stars per celebrity to increase the difficulty of obtaining a double).

The wheel is added to prevent people from constantly choosing Richard Dawson, although the first time it's used it landed on Richard nonetheless. This caused the rest of the panel to get up and leave, leading fellow star Charles Nelson Reilly to refer to it on that episode as "the famed and fixed Star Wheel". The Star Wheel is also used in the 1990-1991 ABC-TV edition of the show albeit slightly different design.

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).


In Popular Culture[]

Match Game has been referenced, spoofed or mentioned in the following:

  • Married with Children (1991) "You Better Shop Around (Part 2)" the title and panelist was mentioned by Jerry Mathers (a.k.a. The Beaver) by saying "Can it be true? Can Match Game P.M. not use another celebrity? Am I truly lower than Charles Nelson Reilly?"
  • Family Guy (2001) Chris is watching an episode as The Match Game.
  • Homestar Runner (2003) it was used as a commercial bumper in the episode "Email the Show" (2006) the show was renamed to The Show A.M. alluding to the rebranding of Match Game P.M. in the episode "Email 4 Branches".
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 it was mentioned in T-Crow's one-man show called (Give 'em Hell Blank)
  • The Price is Right (2007) it was used as a showcase segment on a April Fools Day episode.
  • Remote Control A "modified" version would be used on this show.
  • RuPaul's Drag Race Since season 2, their version would be called Snatch Game where two celebrity contestants would match the six queens.
  • Saturday Night Live In 2001, it was spoofed as a Inside the Actor's Studio skit with future host Alec Baldwin as Charles Nelson Reilly. In 2008, it was spoofed as It's a Match where the celebrities are questioned by a detective about the host's murder backstage.
  • The 7th Annual TV Land Awards (2009) In the opening number, host Neil Patrick Harris impersonated Charles Nelson Reilly in a brief skit of Match Game with the use of the reincarnated set from 1978-82.
  • The Simpsons In the 1994 episode "Bart Gets Famous" it was implied that the set of Match Game 2034 would be similar to the post-modern atmosphere of The Jetsons. In the 2010 episode "Elementary School Musical" (not to be confused with the 2008 episode from South Park of the same name), both Bart and Homer search for evidence on the Internet that can release Krusty the Clown from the International Court of Justice as the find a clip of him appearing on an episode of Match Game P.M. confessing to self-mutilation on MyTube (a spoof of the website YouTube).
  • Victorious In the episode "April Fools Blank", it was spoofed as Match Play.
  • Will & Grace The main characters watch back-to-back episodes of Match Game '73 on the Game Show Network with Karen Walker (played by Megan Mullaly) humming the theme song as she remarks on how she loves the Game Show Network.
  • The Dan Patrick Show seen as a radio game.
  • The Don & Mike Show seen as a radio game.
  • The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time (2006) Match Game was ranked #1 in the countdown.
  • The Life of Reilly Match Game is mentioned numerous times by Charles Nelson Reilly.
  • I Love the 70s Volume II (2006) it was mentioned as a conversation piece in the "1973 Episode.
  • 100 Most Unexpected TV Moments (2005) the "School Riot" episode of Match Game '77 is briefly mentioned in the episode.
  • TV Guide (2001) Match Game was ranked #10 as one of The 50 Greatest Game Shows of All-Time.
  • Vicki Lawrence she made multiple appearances on the show including the 1990 and 1998 revivals and the 2003 video slot machine by WMS Gaming.

Broadcast History of "((THE) (NEW)) MATCH GAME (73-79/PM)"[]

July 2-December 31, 1973 "MATCH GAME 73 (1973)"

January 2-December 31, 1974 "MATCH GAME 74 (1974) &"

January 2-August 8, 1975 (CBS Monday-Friday at 3:30-4:00 PM Eastern)
August 11-November 28, 1975 (CBS Monday-Friday at 3:00-3:30 PM Eastern)
December 1-31, 1975 "MATCH GAME 75 (1975)"

January 2-December 31, 1976 "MATCH GAME 76 (1976)"

January 3-November 4, 1977 (CBS Monday-Friday at 3:30-4:00 PM Eastern)
November 7-December 9, 1977 (CBS Monday-Friday at 11:00-11:30 AM Eastern)
December 12, 1977-January 3, 1978 "MATCH GAME 77-78 (1977-1978)"

January 4, 1978-April 20, 1979 "(The New) MATCH GAME 78-79 (1978-1979)" (CBS Monday-Friday at 4:00-4:30 PM Eastern.)
September 8, 1975-September 13, 1981 (Weekly Nighttime Syndication at various times, usually at 7:30-8:00 PM and especially on selective ABC-TV Network Stations)
September 10, 1979-September 10, 1982 (Daily/Nightly Syndication at various times)


It's bonus round format (called Supermatch) would then later be spun-off as Family Feud hosted by one of their formerly frequent panelists Richard Dawson for ABC-TV Daytime in 1976 until 1985 and for Syndication in 1977 until 1985 and later again from 1994 to 1995 respectively.

There were several differences in the pilots that changed once the show went to series. Among them were the showing being called simply Match Game instead of Match Game '73, the desks for the panelists look a little different, including the taller readout lights for both players, there's one whole desk for both players instead of two separate desks, the triangle for Player 1 looks more blue instead of green, the celebrity's triangle or circle stayed lit until they matched, the toaster where the questions were stored in was shaped differently, the bonus game was called the "Jackpot Match" instead of the "Super Match", the Head-to-Head Match displayed the top prize on screen with its question being read before the contestant chose a celebrity, with the question being in Gene's pocket. There was also only one think cue being used during the main game.

Both Gene Rayburn and Fannie Flagg appeared on an episode of The Love Boat in 1980 called "Not so fast, Gopher/Haven't we met before; Seoul Mates".

The 1978-1982 logo was remade for the ABC Primetime version with Alec Baldwin as host since 2016.

Game Show Marathon (2006)[]

Gameshow Marathon.jpg
G$M MG.jpg

Match Game was featured in the weekly hour-long tournament-styled game show, Gameshow Marathon, the episode premiered on June 22, 2006.

Game Show Marathon was hosted by Ricki Lake and announced by Rich Fields. The show was taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood and aired on CBS from May 31 to June 29, 2006.

The contestants were Lance Bass and Kathy Najimi as the six panelists were George Forman, Kathy Griffin, Bruce Vilanch, Adrianne Curry, Adam Carolla and Betty White.


The format was similar to that of Match Game PM, except that in the Head-to-Head Match portion of the Super-Match round, it was played 50 times the amount won in the two Audience Matches for $50,000 which was won.

Full Episode[]



Set Pics[]


Home Viewer Question[]

The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank[]

Main Article: The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank


Main Article: Match Game/Merchandise


Main Article: Match Game/Photos

International Versions[]

Main Article: Match Game/International

Episode Status[]

See Also: Match Game/Episode Guide

This series exists in its entirety and it's seen presently both on GSN and Buzzr.


Stations that aired the syndicated version of Match Game/Match Game PM:

  • New York - WABC (Weekly), WCBS (Daily)
  • Los Angeles - KABC (Weekly), KNXT/KNBC/KHJ (Daily)
  • Chicago - WLS (Weekly), WBBM (Daily)
  • Houston - KHOU (Weekly), KHTV (Daily)
  • Philadelphia - WCAU (Weekly), WPVI (Daily)
  • Dallas - KDFW
  • San Francisco - KGO (Weekly), KPIX (Daily)
  • Atlanta - WSB
  • Boston - WCVB (Weekly), WBZ (Daily)
  • Phoenix - KTVK
  • Tampa - WTSP
  • Minneapolis - KSTP
  • Detroit - WXYZ
  • Denver - KMGH
  • Orlando -
  • Miami - WTVJ
  • Cleveland - WEWS
  • Sacramento - KXTV
  • Portland, OR - KATU (Weekly), KPTV (Daily)
  • St. Louis - KMOX (now KMOV)
  • Indianapolis - WRTV
  • Pittsburgh - WTAE (Weekly), WPXI (Daily)
  • San Diego - KGTV
  • Baltimore - WBAL
  • San Antonio -
  • Hartford -
  • Columbus, OH - WTVN (now WSYX)
  • Kansas City - KCTV
  • Greenville, SC - WFBC (now WYFF)
  • Cincinnati - WLWT
  • Milwaukee - WISN (Weekly), WTMJ (Daily)
  • Austin -
  • West Palm Beach - WPEC
  • Las Vegas - KLAS
  • Grand Rapids - WKZO (now WWMT)
  • Harrisburg - WLYH (now WXBU)
  • Jacksonville -
  • Oklahoma City - KTVY (now KFOR)
  • Birmingham - WBRC
  • Winston-Salem - WXII
  • New Orleans - WVUE
  • Providence - WPRI
  • Buffalo - WIVB
  • Fort Myers - WINK
  • Fresno -
  • Scranton - WDAU (now WYOU)
  • Albany, NY - WTEN
  • Tulsa - KOTV
  • Knoxville -
  • Tucson - KOLD
  • Dayton -
  • Spokane - KXLY
  • Green Bay - WFRV
  • Flint - WJRT
  • Charleston, WV -
  • Toledo - WTOL
  • Waco -
  • Paducah -
  • Syracuse - WSYR
  • Savannah -
  • Cedar Rapids - WMT (now KGAN)
  • Baton Rouge -
  • Plattsburgh, NY/Burlington, VT - WPTZ
  • Jackson, MS - WJTV
  • Greenville, NC - WITN
  • Reno - KTVN
  • Evansville -
  • Fort Wayne - WANE
  • Yakima/Tri-Cities - KAPP/KVEW
  • Traverse City -
  • Youngstown - WYTV
  • Macon -
  • Santa Barbara - KSBY
  • Salinas/Monterey - KSBW
  • Bakersfield - KGET
  • Montgomery -
  • Columbus, GA -
  • Wausau/Rhinelander - WSAU (now WSAW)
  • Rochester/Mason City - KIMT
  • Joplin, MO - KODE
  • Terre Haute -
  • Ardmore/Ada -
  • Gainesville -
  • Utica -
  • Marquette - WJMN
  • Meridian -
  • San Angelo -
  • North Platte -
  • Bellingham - KVOS

See Also[]

The Match Game
The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour
Match Game (1985 Proposed Revival)
Match Game (1987 Proposed Revival)
Match Game (1990)
Match Game (1998)
What the Blank!
The Life of Reilly
Gameshow Marathon
The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank
Match Game (2008 pilot)
Match Game (2016)


Match Game description by Game Show Network (via Internet Archive)
The Merry Blank-a-Thon Website
Match Game ('73) Pilot @
Why Every '70s Game Show Must Bow Down to 'Match Game'
10 Match Game episodes that hit viewers right in the blank
Game Night: Match Game @ This Was TV
Match Game entry (courtesy of Faded Signals)
Looking Back at the best Match Game panelists



Match Game


Match Game 1973 Pilot


Match Game '73 - CBS Daytime Debut


Match Game '74 fee plug segment


Match Game '76 fee plug segment


Match Game '76 ticket plug


Match Game '76 "next week" bumpers


Match Game (April 20, 1979) - CBS Final episode


Match Game PM (1975) September 8, 1975 (FIRST EPISODE)


Match Game Promo


Match Game Promo (Improved Video)


KABC Match Game PM promo, 1978


Match Game PM TV promo 1980


KPIX Match Game promo, 1984


1996 Game Show Network Match Game promo with Match Game 1970's clip


GSN "Matching Wits on Match Game" segment, 1996


GSN Promo Match Game Karaoke


GSN Promo Subterranian Homesick s


Wink's Game Show Bloopers - Episode 2


Match Game - Brett & Charles